We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Pariah State

Click here to access article by Evan Jones posted on CounterPunch. (Jones is a retired political economist from the University of Sydney.)

This is one of the most devastating critiques of the state of Israel that I have seen. Evans begins with a number of historical quotations by Zionist and other observers which illustrate that the current barbarous actions of this pariah state are not an aberration, but continue the pattern created by Zionist ancestors in collaboration with European ruling classes.
There are numerous bread-and-butter tyrannies – some of which (foremost, Saudi Arabia), curiously, we have as friends. But Israel is unique. Israel was conceived as necessitating ethnic cleansing, and was created and is sustained by ethnic cleansing. Israel was created and is sustained by terrorism. Israel is, sui generis, a force for terrorism and ethnic cleansing.

There is the view, fashionable amongst middle-of-the-road optimists harbouring a two-state solution pie-in-the-sky, that the problem is that the state has been appropriated by the political Right and the Far Right. The good Israel has been hijacked by the nasties. On the contrary. The current Israel is the natural heir of its origins and subsequent entrenchment of ethnically-based legal and cultural structures. Israel now produces racists as a majority voice, with citizens imbued with universalist values reduced to near powerlessness.

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Click here to access article by Robert Fisk from The Independent (Britain).

This veteran journalist, who has specialized in covering events in the Middle East, describes the difficulties that Western ruling class media directors are having with their journalists' coverage of the latest Israeli massacre of Palestinians.
There was a time when our politicians and media had one principal fear when covering Middle East wars: that no one should ever call them anti-Semitic.
So corrosive, so vicious was this charge against any honest critic of Israel that merely to bleat the word “disproportionate” – as in any normal wartime exchange rate of Arab-to-Israeli deaths – was to provoke charges of Nazism by Israel’s would-be supporters. Sympathy for Palestinians would earn the sobriquet “pro-Palestinian”, which, of course, means “pro-terrorist”.
Or so it was until the latest bloodbath in Gaza....

Groundwater Depletion in Colorado River Basin Poses Big Risk to Water Security

Click here to access article by Sandra Postel from National Geographic. 

Although the recently released study using NASA data has alarmed many in the ruling One Percent, you won't see any reference to the gargantuan appetite of their capitalist operations to consume ever more amounts of resources in order to keep their economy growing--simply because it must. 

Whereas most media agencies typically leave off after providing their usual sensationalism, Postel offers solutions--but they won't upset any capitalist. She suggests four, but they boil down to water use efficiency and better water monitoring. Never mind the melting icecaps, forest fires, extreme weather events all caused by climate destabilization because of excessive burning of fossil fuels; likewise ignore the huge amounts of water necessary for shale-fracking operations to obtain oil and gas. No, let's avoid any wider perspective that might raise questions about the economic system. 

Russian deputy PM mocks Obama by tweeting ‘unmanly’ photo of president

Click here to access article by Josie Ensor from The Telegraph. (satire?)

It very much looks like these two capitalist gangs are getting ready for a serious fight. Let us pray that their inter-denominational capitalist fights don't spill over into major wars that affect us in the 99 Percent as is happening tragically for the people in Ukraine, Libya, and the Middle East (mostly due to Empire schemes). It appears that the Empire's rich are taking this spat seriously by building "panic rooms" in their mansions. On the other hand, it could be that they are just afraid of us--but who knows?

Meanwhile, the Chinese gang is preparing to be dragged into this capitalist fight for global dominance by building new weapons systems to deliver nuclear warheads. Oh, "what a wonderful world" we live in!

Friday, August 1, 2014

HRW: Human Rights Watch or Hypocrites Representing Washington (Part 1)

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from New Eastern Outlook.
By examining the way in which HRW documented, investigated, and presented findings from the conflicts in Israel/Palestine, Ukraine, Libya, Syria, and Venezuela, it becomes clear that the organization, though theoretically objective and “disinterested,” is in fact an integral part of the western imperial system. Though HRW has done some good work, and likely will in the future, this cannot be taken as evidence that the organization is somehow not a part of the Empire. On the contrary, without HRW and similar organizations, Washington and its allies would not be able to champion themselves as “defenders of human rights,” “beacons of democracy,” and “humanitarian powers.”

Racism is the Foundation of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge

Click here to access article by Joel Beinin from Stanford University Press Blog.
The international community typically sees the manifestations of Israel’s violent racism only when they erupt as assaults on the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or Lebanon.  But Israel’s increasingly poisonous anti-Arab and anti-Muslim public culture prepares the ground of domestic public opinion long before any military operation and immunizes the army from most criticism of its “excesses.” 

As World Condemns Attack on Gaza, US Resupplies Israel with Weapons

Click here to access article by Jon Queally from Common Dreams.  

Your tax dollars at work supporting another Israeli massacre of Palsestinians:
Pentagon acknowledges recent release of ammunition stockpiles for IDF as Palestinian death toll approaches 1,400 people in three-week attack decried by humanitarians across the globe

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Atlantic Axis and the Making of a War in Ukraine

Click here to access article by Christof Lehmann from New Eastern Outlook

Lehmann brings together a number of geopolitical incidents from recent years to explain them in terms of Anglo-American Empire interests. The current Empire like all previous empires is determined to expand control over territories with a special interest under capitalism to control resources, markets, and labor. Countries that stand in their way become targets as we see now represented by Russia, Iran, and China. In this article Lehmann focues on the targeting of Russia. Control over oil and gas pipelines, subversion in the case of Ukraine, expansion of NATO up to the borders of Russia, and keeping Europe tied to the Empire are a part of this epic and tragic drama as explained by Lehmann.  

A City-Sized Prison-House

Click here to access article by Lori Allen from Stanford University Press Blog.
1.8 million live patrolled and contained like this—that’s about the population of Hamburg, or Detroit in its heyday. It is difficult to convey the utter wrongness of this city-sized prison-house to someone who has not experienced or witnessed the daily indignities and frequent atrocities of the occupation. 
Allen describes in extremely painful detail the prison-like conditions that Gazans face everyday of their lives. Meanwhile, back at the American ranch people are totally unaware of these conditions. 

But that seems to be typical of my fellow Americans who have been lied to endlessly especially over the past sixty years, and still come back to the same mainstream media sources for more lies. The near-term comforts of going along with powerful authorities should not be underestimated. Such people don't have to take responsibility for the evil that is done to others, or incur the sanctions of authorities by challenging their role in creating the evil. However, it is the long-term that I am worried about.

Israel’s Propaganda on “Terror Tunnels”

Click here to access article by Joel Gillin from Muftah.

Gillon does an excellent job of deconstructing Israeli propaganda that is repeated in US's corporate media automatically and ad nauseam.
Use of the “terror” label is but one of many tactics the Israeli government has yet again employed to drum up support among its citizens and the international community for its war in Gaza. The U.S. media has openly embraced Israel’s problematic “terror tunnel” narrative; CNN’s Wolf Blitzer even paid a visit to these subterranean structures to show just how much effort went into building them. In compiling his report, Blitzer allowed Lt. Col. Azouli to go unchallenged in his claims that the tunnels facilitate attacks on “regular people, children, women, men” in Israel.
Thus far, the U.S. media has willfully failed to mention or even notice the obvious lack of evidence showing the tunnels have ever been used for terrorism.
So, who needs evidence? Lies and insinuations seem to work just as well.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Media Ignores the CIA in Ukraine

Click here to access article by Bill Blunden from The Greanville Post.

I love Blunden's subtitle "Pay No Attention to that Man Behind the Curtain" because that is what most media in the US do all the time. In order to maintain the facade of capitalism's "democratic" liberties and benign foreign policies, they must do this; and maintaining the facade is the primary mission of ruling class's corporate media. 
So far the bulk of the American media’s coverage of the Ukraine deftly sidesteps the CIA’s role.
Yet all of the signs are there. Former CIA Officer John Stockwell explained that “stirring up deadly ethnic and racial strife has been a standard technique used by the CIA.[4]” Students of history (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile, and Nicaragua) will also recognize many of the hallmarks of a covert destabilization operation.

Crime (Israel) and punishment (Russia)

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online. 

He uses the Orwellian "Two Minutes Hate" as a metaphor describing the Empire's policies toward Russia.
Not even Hollywood could come up with such a plot; Israel gets away with unlawful premeditated mass murder of civilians, while Russia gets framed for a (smaller-scale) airborne mass murder of civilians that has all the makings of being set up by the Kiev vassals of Russia's Western "partners". 
.... Let's follow the facts. 
And this perceptive Brazilian journalist has some interesting and depressing insights on the outcome of the inspection of the "black boxes" from the downed Malaysian Airlines MH17, the US and expected European sanctions against Russia, and where it all might lead.

How Fracking Is Blowing Up Balance Sheets of Oil and Gas Companies

Click here to access article by Wolf Richter from Wolf Street.

Richter has provided more recent evidence to support a thesis which long-time energy analyst Gail Tverberg has been hammering on for a number of years: that cheap, easily accessible oil and gas have been used up; thus the costs for future fossil fuel based energy is going to climb steeply to the point where it will have dramatic impacts on the economy.  

Because capitalism functions like a pyramid scheme that relies on future growth, the implications of this thesis for capitalism is staggering; so staggering that capitalists, who are addicted to this system because it provides them with so much wealth and power, refuse to face reality. (This scheme has worked for capitalists in the past because humans had not yet reached the finite resource limits that they are now approaching, nor have they been faced with impending climate destabilization.) It's very much like one of the end stages that have been described by Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross:
As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. What this means is that the person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of his/her situation, and begins to develop a false, preferable reality.
Thus, they keep indulging in fantasies like migrating to other planets, or promising that technology will come up with new sources of cheap energy. One of their favorite fantasies is fusion energy--but the reality of cold fusion is far different. As physicist Tom Murphy expressed the enormous problems of fusion energy so well:
No one can truly say whether we will achieve fusion in a way that is commercially practical. If teams of PhDs have spent over 60 years wailing on the problem while spending tens of billions of dollars, I think it’s safe to use our fusion quest as the definition of hard. It’s a much larger challenge than sending men to the Moon. We have no historical precedent for an arduous technological problem on this scale that ultimately succeeded to become a ho-hum commercial reality. But for that matter, I don’t think we have any precedent for something on this scale that has failed. In short, we’re out of our depths and can’t be cocky about predictions in either direction.

1 in 3 Americans Have a Debt in Collections: Study

Click here to access article by Sarah Lazare from Common Dreams. 
At least 35 percent of U.S. adults have a debt in collections, according to a study (pdf) released Tuesday by the Urban Institute in conjunction with Encore Capital Group's Consumer Credit Research Institute.
This amounts to 77 million people with credit histories....

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Art of War: NATO’s Global Offensive

Click here to access article by Manlio Dinucci from Il Manifesto (Italian publication) via Global Research and translated into English. 

This Italian news source reveals to we Americans what US corporate media is not telling us: that our tax dollars are very busy at work maintaining the Empire's global operations.
No holiday this summer for NATO; it’s working overtime. In preparation for the Summit of Heads of State and Government on September 4-5 in Newport, Wales, NATO will set down the blueprint for ‘”strategic adaptation” for military initiatives directed against Russia.
As already announced by U.S. General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, it “will cost money, time and effort.” 

Palestinians cram overcrowded UN shelter in Gaza

Click here to access article from AFP, a French news service, via Al Akhbar.

The report provides a disturbing picture of what life is like for Palestinians in one of 85 UN shelters:

Dozens of displaced Gaza families flooded into a UN school early Tuesday after Israel warned them to leave their homes, struggling to set up camp in a cramped, dirty courtyard.

Hundreds of homeless Gazans were already living there, with this school in the northern town of Jabalia packed to overflowing.

Rubbish piled up outside the school walls, filling the air with a foul stench, as women used brooms and muddy water to clean up their new accommodation -- festering classrooms packed with dirty mattresses and bedclothes.

Meanwhile, back at the "official" headquarters of the Empire, the US Congress, we learn what our Zionist-funded representatives are doing. 
As the civilian death toll in Gaza continues to climb, the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced a symbolic resolution—backed by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee—blaming Hamas for the bloodshed and condemning them for the alleged use of "human shields."

The middle class is 20 percent poorer than it was in 1984

Click here to access article by Matt O'Brien from The Washington Post.

Referring to a recently released study by the Russell Sage Foundation, O'Brien writes:

Nostalgia is just about the only thing the middle class can still afford. That's because median wealth is about 20 percent lower today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was in 1984. 

Yes, that's three lost decades. ....

At this rate, it won't be long until the American Dream isn't even a memory for the middle class. 

The graph at the left says it all, except what Wolf Richter points out: "What the report wisely left untouched is how the real winners of the Fed’s policies, the 99.9th percentile, made out."

The NSA’s New Partner in Spying: Saudi Arabia’s Brutal State Police

Click here to access article by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain from The Intercept.

It is often said that one can judge a person by the friends he/she has. If this is true and can be applied to ruling classes, then what are we to think of the US One Percent?
The National Security Agency last year significantly expanded its cooperative relationship with the Saudi Ministry of Interior, one of the world’s most repressive and abusive government agencies. An April 2013 top secret memo provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden details the agency’s plans “to provide direct analytic and technical support” to the Saudis on “internal security” matters.

Mega Drought?

Click here to access article by Robert Hunziker from Dissident Voice.
Droughts are a natural part of the climate cycle. As a matter of fact, studies of tree rings going back 1,000 years show mega droughts lasting for decades. Then, nature alone was the culprit, but what happens now when global warming/climate change is superimposed onto nature’s handiwork?

Dirty Coal Exports Are a 'Global Shell Game'

Click here to access article by Deirdre Fulton from Common Dreams.
It is difficult to calculate exactly how much pollution results from U.S. coal exports. When it comes to new export terminals, such as those proposed in Oregon and Washington, the federal government has been reluctant to assess how coal that originates in the U.S. could contribute to global warming.
Here in the Northwest of the US, we are seeing a surge of mile long oil and coal trains going through our cities and plans to build coal export terminals to increase coal exports to Asia. Meanwhile, little is reported by local media about the ongoing protests against these operations which only increase global warming and risky disastors. Instead, most coverage is only about immediate effects on the local economy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Is the New BRICS Bank a Challenge to US Global Financial Power?

Click here if you wish to access the transcript of the discussion of this theme by liberal Michael Hudson and Marxist Leo Panitch monitored by Real News interviewer Paul Jay.

It seems to me that this discussion suggests the main difference between their two orientations: Hudson sees the BRIC attempts at independence from Anglo-American hegemony as dramatic and good for what they often see as a "multi-polar" world, while Panitch sees this development as only a new capitalist gang trying to assert more of their own capitalist interests within a world dominated by the US-led Empire gang. 

Many other liberals are also seeing the development of BRIC power and a multi-polar world as a solution to the present world crises, but Panitch correctly sees BRIC power as only serving another capitalist gang that wants basically the same thing as Empire ruling classes: exploitation of people and resources to promote their wealth and power. We have already seen the devastating results of inter-capitalist class competition in the last century. Surely, no one wants a repeat of that!!!

I've just listened to another interview given by Paul Jay with Patrick Bond of South Africa in which this distinction is made much clearer.

It's going to take a world-wide, organized opposition by the 99 Percent who must stop this capitalist train from driving all of us over the cliffs of climate destabilization, wars, and famine.

A struggle to save Europe’s soul from privatization

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution.
It should be clear by now that the privatization process, in all its scandalous ugliness, is little more than an attempt to enclose the commons and extract as much value as possible from a country whose population has already been sucked dry by the European banking elite amidst a catastrophic four-year-old depression. Completing the privatizations is a prerequisite for the release of Greece’s bailout funds, and it is common knowledge that Troika officials have been playing a leading role in drafting up many of the plans in great detail.
However, there is active opposition growing among the Greek people who are fighting to keep their islands, their beaches, and their classic Greek heritage from being put up for sale. Roos provides the details. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

American Empire: Reaping What It Has Sown in Latin America

Click here to access article by xraymike79 from Collapse of Industrial Civilization.
...after destroying the means of survival for so many in Latin America, the poor and destitute turn to whatever means necessary in order to stay alive — crime, gangs, and the drug trade. The U.S. has reacted to this lawlessness by militarizing the “war on drugs”, providing even more weaponry and support to fascist governments who can then brutally squash any grassroots social movements which challenge the neoliberal capitalist order. It’s a vicious feedback loop in which the U.S. is forced to combat the very social disintegration of Latin America that U.S. economic policy has created. Thus, a fourth factor in America’s immigration crisis is the neocon militarization of the drug war and support of fascist governments aligned with U.S. corporate interests....
Because I am on a email list from Rights Action, I get nearly daily reports from their observers of all kinds of atrocities that people in Central America suffer at the hands of US and Canadian corporations, paramilitary armies, their corrupt governments, and occasionally direct US military actions. Very little of these reports are reflected in mainstream media. So, now we see the blow-back from such activities by recent sensational and highly distorted coverage of children fleeing these violence ridden countries and entering the US. Thus, as always, we get the blow-back without the "blow", and, as always, the American people are easily misled and manipulated by media owned by the ruling class that has perpetrated the atrocities. 

Do I need to state the obvious solution? Well, it seems that I do. The solution is: support those who are attempting to provide honest news by reputable journalists and other observers, and doing so with very little funding. Support and follow the websites listed on my website for starters. Although I spend four to five hours daily on my project, I don't need your financial support because I am retired with enough to live on. But, many other sites do need your support to simply exist.

Gen Dempsey: “We’re Pulling Out Our Cold War Military Plans Over Ukraine”

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from Raging Bull-Shit.
Hours after the U.S. State Department on Thursday claimed (though failed to describe) new evidence that Russia’s military was both increasing the flow of arms to rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine and firing artillery at Ukrainian Army positions across its border, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey elevated the rhetoric against Russian President Vladimir Putin and directly invoked the idea that a new Cold War-like posture is now being taken by the U.S. military.

Introducing Oligrapher: power mapping on LittleSis

Click here to access article by Kevin Connor from LittleSis Blog.
From Wikileaks to Edward Snowden to the rise of investigative media organizations like ProPublica and First Look there are some signs that a century after Brandeis and other muckrakers took it to J.P. Morgan, Standard Oil, and other monopolists, we are entering a new era of modern-day muckraking. This seems true even in spite of the extraordinary pressures on the field of journalism. And whether modern-day muckrakers are looking at the defense and intelligence apparatus, Wall Street, Big Oil, or some other industry or issue area, corrupt and cozy elite networks often end up at the center of the story. Some of the information dug up on these networks can be molded into a compelling narrative, and good stories will of course always be essential. But sometimes having another way to look at these connections and networks can be really helpful – that’s where Oligrapher comes in.

Israeli Comfort Women?

Click here to access article by Daniel Johnson from The Media Co-op (Canada).

The Israeli Defence Forces online social networking propaganda campaign, which so far has included government employees, youth groups and now a student grant for pro-Israeli spam trolling, has now taken a turn to the downright surreal on July 23, 2014, with the launch of the 'Standing With The IDF Facebook Group'.

Also, The Media Co-op is an excellent example of what people-powered journalism is all about. Canadian activists must be commended for bringing about this network from across Canada, and by activists who are committed to countering ruling class media with a media that supplies information that ordinary people need access to.